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Word Count: 1,150
Like all epics Gilgamesh contains both historical and mythic elements in all its versions and is meant to be interpreted on several levels In addition to its very human themes of friendship courage the problem of death and the meaning of life it is also an initiatory tale about the quest for enlightenment the revelation of divine mysteries the duality of man and the evolutionary unfolding of our spiritual nature The physical composition of the Babylonian recension discloses an intentional number symbolism 12 tablets each containing about 300 lines divided into 6 columns More importantly Gilgamesh is meant to be read as an extended metaphor a spiritual biography as much about ourselves as about the Sumerian hero-king Calling across nearly 5000 years it is a potent reminder of the timelessness and relevance of the ancient spiritual path Here I will adopt a definition offered by Finnish folklorist Lauri Honko He summarize four criteria of myth with respect to form narrative of sacred origin content cosmogonic in terms of cultural origin or existential condition function model for human activity and context in the sense that myth provides the ideological content for a sacred form of behavior It is also important to note that myths language symbols and meaning are tied to the context and worldview of origin Moreover the functional use of myths may range from a childrens story hour to a mechanism of political legitimization In other words myths serve any number of social religious ideological or pedagogical functions Gilgamesh is an epic of great love followed by lingering grief that causes a significant change in his character It is the story of a person who is feared and honored a person who loves and hates a person who wins and loses and a person who lives life Although Gilgameshs journey is larger than life yet it ends so commonly with death Example of Form - The Epic of Gilgamesh opens
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